Rubio clarifies age of the Earth answer
December 5th, 2012
10:26 AM ET
8 years ago

Rubio clarifies age of the Earth answer

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida attempted to clear up Wednesday his controversial answer to a question about the Earth's age last month.

"Science says (the Earth) is about 4.5 billion years old. My faith teaches that's not inconsistent," Rubio said at a Politico Playbook Breakfast in Washington. "God created the heavens and the Earth, and science has given us insight into when he did it and how he did it."

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"The more science learns," he continued, "the more I am convinced that God is real."

Rubio was asked how old the planet was in an interview with GQ magazine published November 19. The senator, who's considered to be weighing a 2016 presidential bid, replied saying the Earth's age is "one of the great mysteries."

Emphasizing he "was not a scientist," Rubio said "whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that."

His comments received fierce pushback in the liberal blogosphere and brought renewed attention to the debate between creationism and evolution.

On Wednesday, one morning after he gave a high-profile speech, Rubio said he doesn't "regret" his answer but wishes he had given "a more succinct" response.

"We were talking about hip hop and the guy pivoted to the age of the Earth," the junior senator said. "I'm not a robot." He added that if he had 30 minutes to sit down and write out his thoughts, he would have provided a better answer.

"It's not the worst thing that's ever happened to me," he said

Rubio said he was originally talking about the "theological debate" over the Earth's age-not the "scientific debate," which he said has definitively established the planet is at least 4.5 billion years old.

He emphasized it was a matter of "how do you reconcile what science has definitively established with what you may think your faith teaches" and further maintained his stance that parents should be able to teach their children whatever they believe.

He also pointed to then-Sen. Barack Obama's answer to a similar question in 2008.

"My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live, that that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true," Obama said at a CNN presidential forum. "Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible? That, you know, I don't presume to know."

A Roman Catholic, Rubio also attends Baptist services and added Wednesday that he sometimes goes to both churches in one day.

Asked why he thought his original comments caused such a stir, Rubio argued that he enjoys it when something he says triggers conversation but added he didn't think the dialogue made it far beyond the Beltway.

"Not a single person at the supermarket asked me about it on the day before Thanksgiving," he said.

- CNN's Dan Merica contributed to this report.

READ MORE: Sen. Marco Rubio's religious journey: Catholic to Mormon to Catholic to Baptist and Catholic

Filed under: 2016 • Faith • Marco Rubio
soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. Jesse

    There is absolutely no "proof" whatsoever that the earth is either 6,000 years ols, or 4.6 billion years old. The latter is a theory only. The nuclear burn rate of the sun tells the "scientist" that it is impossible for earth to be billions of years old, because it would be much too close to the sun and would have simply burned up. All scientists know this, but they have to keep the grant money flowing. No one knows the age of the earth, and probably never will, but it is nowhere near billions of years old and everyone hear at Goddard knows that.

    December 5, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  2. Tatts

    "His comments received fierce pushback in the liberal blogosphere..."

    So, according to the writer, everyone who believes in science is a member of the "liberal blogosphere". And she apparently believes that criticism of Rubio's remarks was limited to the "liberal blogosphere". Seriously? All criticism of him came from "liberals"? Give me a break.

    December 5, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  3. batteryinme

    Another moronic answer. Break free from the shackles of idiocy, and embrace some data and reason republicans. Living in the 1850's forever will doom your party. At some point in time, you have to get smarter, and actually rebuke your base with facts instead of fable.

    December 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. Sam Adams

    This helps to explain why the US lags behind other developed nations in education of children – Rubio says the parents should be free to teach their children anything, without regard to whether it is fact or not.

    Uneducated people hang onto the terms "theory" and "theorem" without understanding how they are used in mathematics and science.

    Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge, in contrast to more common uses of the word "theory" that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better defined by the word 'hypothesis'). Scientific theories are also distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures, and scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of how nature will behave under certain conditions.

    From observation, we conjecture that Senator Rubio doesn't know enough about the topic to provide a cogent answer.

    December 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. freedom

    Why isn't GQ or CNN, namely Candy Crowley, scrutinizing anything that Susan Rice, Hilary Clinton, and President Obama said about the Benghazi attacks? The earth's age won't prevent terrorists from attacking the U.S., or killing our servicemen and women. Where's the accountability? And why is Obama letting this fiscal dialogue go on so long and threatening the American people at Christmas? These are some real questions, just to name a few. Rubio is a very intelligent man with integrity. That's a fact.

    December 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. Thomas

    This is a perfect example of a child abusing his Twitter privileges .

    Rubio needs to get to work and stop looking in the mirror and imagining himself as President " Cinderella "

    Rubio and Ryan have a better chance selling me deodorant , then convincing me of there leadership skills .

    December 5, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  7. The Lord of Excess

    It is a sad day in America where willful ignorance, and really fabricated ignorance, helps people get elected. None of the guys making these crazy literal interpretation comments about the bible really believe it, not a single one, but the electorate apparently responds to it. We have huge swaths of our nation that languish in willful ignorance. This has nothing to do with science it has everything to do with thinking that somehow science is incompatible with faith. That is a dangerous place to be, look at the worst pockets of the world Afghanistan 13 years ago for example and you will see where that path leads. This is bone chilling really, extremely scary stuff.

    December 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  8. whozits

    Catholic and Baptist, hmm. Well, every Baptist preacher in my area teaches that Catholics are idolators and heretics condemned to eternal damnation so I wonder how that works out. I also wonder why the particular wander he has traveled in his spiritual journey. Odd choices. Raised an RC, myself. Walked away from being told what is right or wrong by old men in dresses who toss aging nuns for their property so they can pay off abuse settlements. Being a Baptist seems a little like learning a secret handshake and being a Mormon, well, its just a hop-skip-jump from Scientology. Whatever the Creator is (the Great Architect, perhaps?) not sure s/he has much truck with organized religion but scientists say that over 20% of us are hardwired to seek one out. However it came to be, it's a beautiful planet with some really silly apes running it into perdition.

    December 5, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  9. Der Fenstergucker

    Rubio: "[earth] is about 4.5 billion years old. My faith teaches that's NOT INconsistent," ... God created the heavens and the Earth, and science has given us insight into when he did it and how he did it.".. "The more science learns .. "the more I am convinced that God is real."
    And That guy was elected to national public office???? He twists like a politician with double negatives so he can avoid a clear yes/ no answser.
    ..the more science learns..the more god is real??? from what planet is this guy? TOTAL NONsequitur, and fully INconsistent with any educated logic. What a louse!
    Science has nothing to do with god, doesn't dis- or approve god. Because any 'god proof' is still out, and will be forever. You can't prove god, science doesn't try to. That's why it's called "faith', duh.

    December 5, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. JeramieH

    > Why is it that the same person that would deny the existence of a creator, in the day of a calamity, is first to call upon God for help?

    Like how Christians call upon Allah during a calamity?

    December 5, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  11. RCM

    Rubio is now doing the GOP thing, re-writting history.

    December 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. mork

    just another religious nut job with dreams of glory

    December 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  13. tmc

    So it begins, the candidates carefully craft their responses so as not to sound too educated, too fundamental, too much anything. This is not the fault of the candidates. They only morph top what the public expects.

    December 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  14. rs

    Facts don't Lie-


    December 5, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  15. Der Fenstergucker

    @ {!}, but i think your name should be really [ ? ]
    "Other than Rubio's thoughts on the earths age, would liberal inquisitors want to know anything else about a presidential candidate Rubio?"

    A national candidate who would assist in decision making in science funding, education, health care, medicine, space technology and more HAS to answer questions about how he sees science and scientific knowledge.
    Rubio, as candidate??? Utter Fail !!!

    December 5, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. JonathanL

    God didn't make the earth. Earth is one of trillions of planets and it was made out of most of the same material other planets are made of. Really it is just a big ball of elements and chemicals most of which were produced from a super nova (exploding start) pre-dating our solar system by yet another several billions of years. We can see this process going on repeatedly thoughout the visible Universe. I realize without learning, you might think it is all magic. But really we now have logical explanations for almost everything. Nothing disobeys the laws of physics, it is just a matter of understanding them all. Religion is hardly the right source for scientific knowledge. I look to religion for mythologies with meaning, and ideas, but I take it all with a grain salt, and think for myself. I definitely don't take scriptures literally and don't believe everything I read just because it is written, or I am told to.

    December 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  17. Der Fenstergucker

    @ { ! }, i read some of your other posts.... Utter Fail, my man, utter fail. Just because "someone thinks for 'himself' and happens to hear voices or talk to the easter bunny that doesn't make him a sane person.

    Science Speaks for ITSELF, with facts, not brain farts.

    December 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. mainimages

    God created the earth in 6 days. Are we talking about 6 God-days or 6 man-days? Six man days would mean six nights and six days or six revolutions of the earth. God days would be something like the universe revolving around itself six times? These questions and answers seem only to indicate that man is self centered and limited ( his understanding is limited by his capacities and his physical and psychological needs) and that God Is.

    December 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Yonni

    When this guy actually work he is everywhere grand standing and the media is obsessed with him please let him do the job he is hired to do for his constituent at list for a couple of years before he start running for the president. We were convinced that Ruddy Giuliani and Rick Perry had a chance; we will talk about this guy chance to be TPOUS later. Hillary is a good role model she had accomplished in the US senate and at the secretary of US of A didn’t west her time grand standing in front of a camera.

    December 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  20. Hypocrisy, Four Years Early!

    The election isn't for another four years, and already this cheap hypocrite is "clarifying," "denying," and "attending" two different churches.

    At this rate, Rubio is going to obliterate Romney's world record in the Olympic "Hypocrite Medley Relay."

    December 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. FG

    It took him long enough to spin his original response. I wonder who wrote it for him, maybe one of Mitt's team?

    December 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. RDB

    He needs 30 minutes to collect his thoughts and answer a simple question? No wonder Congress cannot get anything done.

    December 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Madison

    Tatts – If you would read, all it said was that his comments received pushback from the liberal blogosphere. Which is true. It said nothing about not receiving criticism from scientists or conservatives or anyone else. Stating that he received criticism from the liberal blogosphere does not eliminate everyone else, it only points to one group as part of the conversation.

    No criticism of Obama saying essentially the same thing though?

    December 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Squigman

    Please leave your faith at home. If you are running for, or have obtained access to a position of power, do your job with statistics, not visions brought forth by your belief. Do your job for the people based on fact, and statistics.

    December 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. Wake up People!

    This guy is as clueless as he looks in this picture. I think that has to be a prerequisite to be a republican.

    December 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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